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Pillow Power

The Science of Sleeping Yourself Thin

Sleep never seems to get the respect it deserves. 

People seem to always underestimate the power of the pillow.

In fact, people still brag about how little sleep they are getting.  They wear their bloodshot eyes like a badge of honor.

I get it.  Sometimes getting a full 8 hours just isn’t in the cards.  With kids in the house, demanding jobs, travel, and life’s little surprises, it is understandable that you may not get optimal sleep every night.

However, have you ever considered that you might be undersleeping your way fat, and sick?

Less Sleep » More Fat

Researchers now know that short sleep leads to weight gain.

People who don’t get at least six hours of sleep at night are prone to overeating, and they usually crave starchy, sugary foods.   This is fairly common knowledge, but it isn’t the only reason short sleepers gain weight.

It turns out that skimping on your shut-eye also slows metabolism.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently brought 36 healthy adults into their sleep lab.  Over five days half the group was allowed to sleep only four hours a night, the other half got to sleep as long as they wanted, up to 10 hours at a time.

The sleep-restricted group was active and awake for more hours of the day, but their resting metabolisms slowed by about 70 calories a day.   So even though they spent more hours up and about – their resting metabolisms were slower than those who spent more hours in bed.

While 70 calories per day is not a huge amount, it can add up across multiple nights of sleep restriction.   Remember, this study was only 5 days.  How many days in the last year have you had less than 6 hours of sleep?  Your metabolic hit is likely much higher!

The Inverse Relationship Between Appetite and Metabolism

Here is what is even more troubling: metabolism sputters just as appetite goes up.  Not a good combo for those hoping for a slender figure, but excellent for survival.

You see, your body is built to survive.  And it will do whatever it takes to keep you alive.  When you restrict calories, your body thinks you are starving so it ever so graciously lowers the rate at which you burn calories to make the food you do eat last longer.

Similarly, when you restrict sleep, your body believes that there is some type of eminent danger lurking and protects you by slowing your metabolism and conserving your calories.   At the same time, your body feels the need to remind you to eat – so it triggers your hunger hormones.

The hormones that control hunger and satiety, leptin and ghrelin, become unbalanced with sleep restriction.  So, less sleep leads to more hunger.

The study’s sleep-restricted volunteers ate about 500 more calories each day, so the total calorie imbalance just from not sleeping enough was substantial—around 570 calories daily, enough to lead to about a pound of weight gain each week.

Ever wonder why you are eating right and exercising but still not losing weight?  Look at your sleep.

Sleep your way to healthy hormones

Your hunger hormones are not the only hormones to suffer when sleep is in short supply.

New research shows that testosterone – the hormone responsible for a healthy sex drive and lean body composition – is basically produced during sleep and depleted while awake.  Low Testosterone affects both males and females and can lead to depression, mood swings, fatigue, sexual disfunction, inability to maintain lean muscle and trouble losing body fat.Sleep Is a Pillar of Health

Often overlooked, sleep is just as important as diet, exercise, and stress reduction when it comes to having a healthy body.  The bottom line, getting 7-9 hours of good quality sleep is super important – especially when you are looking to lose weight, have energy, and balance hormones.

It isn’t just the time in bed that matters, the quality of sleep is equally important.  For many, this can be the missing link in achieving better health.  Is something preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep?

Digestive dysfunction, anxiety, autoimmunity, blood sugar dysregulation, hormone imbalance and chronic pain are things that could be standing between you and quality sleep.

Book your free consultation with Dr. Michelle Sands today, and she will lay out the best plan for amazing sleep, balanced hormones, and optimal health –  no matter your genetics, environment, or family history.

Click here to book a free consultation today.

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